Since I’m “sociable” these days in my expanding role as an online book marketer, I’m exposed to new sources of zany information. Take food, for instance (thank you, I will). Food holiday notices pop up often. Maybe I’m just hungry, but I’ve seen a ton of foodie goodness highlighted this month. To start with, April is National Garlic Month. Guess what’s in tonight’s dinner. : ) So far, I’ve encountered National Empanada Day and National Cheese Fondue Day. We’ve also enjoyed Beer Day and World Malbec Day. And I’m looking forward to Pigs in a Blanket Day and Shrimp Scampi Day. I had no idea such tasty fun abounded online.
Of course, what this really means for a foodie like myself is hunger. All day long. And the need to satiate that hunger. So, what does that have to do with writing?
Let me make the distinction that I’m speaking of writing about food within the context of a story. I don’t write as a food critic or food blogger, though I’ve investigated those avenues. After research and thought, I knew I much preferred incorporating my food love into novels and stories.
I grew up near and in Manhattan. One of my favorite things about the city is the availability of crazy-diverse food offerings around the clock. In my opinion, it’s one of the things NYC does best: supply an endless bounty of succulent bites.
A large part of my existence in the Big Apple (see, it’s even nicknamed after a food), involved eating and dining out. While deciding whether to move to St. Augustine, a considerable factor was its gastronomy effect: could the town sustain me? After significant sampling of the local fare, I had my answer: a resounding yes. Thank goodness.
Given the enormity of my adoration, it made sense to bring this huge fixation into my writing. Food is one of my great loves (don’t worry, my hub is right there, too), so I had to blend it with another of my great loves, writing.
Writing about food creates ambiance, develops character, evokes setting, propels scenes …. Food plays a role in the bigger picture that is the story.
People think of food with a range of emotion. People relate to sustenance as a universal language. We connect to others through cuisine and cooking. The experience of food involves all the senses: taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. The inclusion of these five items is critical to brilliant, captivating writing.
This food writing is not about sensory overload, though. It’s about setting a time and place, creating relationships between the character and the food, the situation, the other characters. It’s about bonding and enjoyment, craving and the simple truth of necessity.
In my first novel, Emerald Obsession, the lead character Lexy, much like myself (shocking), indulges in a variety of food and drink experiences. From the juicy, homey burger at Walker’s to the garlicky, piquant gambas at Las Ramblas, her emotions progress from consolation to camaraderie. A beer with a suspicious character in a neighborhood pub segues into a drinking contest and lends zip to her feisty attitude and competitive nature.
And in my forthcoming novel—I’ll call it simply TB for now—I have the cast meeting the newcomer in a seaside Caribbean locale over crunchy conch fritters and a crisp Turks Head beer, while breezes ruffle the palms overhead.
I hope my stories transport people somewhere exotic and exciting. Writing about food and the surroundings in which it’s shared is a great way to escape the everyday. Or to remind us how good it is.
So, friends, fans and followers, how do you feel when you read about food? Does that delight you and make you hungry, like me? Share your favorite foods and restaurants in the comment section. I’d love to hear what sets your taste buds zinging. One of my ABSOLUTE faves—which I was fortunate to have on a recent visit north—is my mom’s homemade lasagna!!! Check out the photos. I surprised her (not really) by having three servings that night. Whee … heaven! : ) Thanks for reading and sharing = caring.
PS—If you’re in the St. Augustine area this weekend, 4/23/16, stop by the Annual Taste of St. Augustine for delectable nibbles from our local restaurants, a highlight of my spring. Be on the lookout for me and the hub.